På skive

HENRIK OLSSON

«Hand Of Benediction»
BAREFOOT RECORDS, BFREC061

Swedish, Copenhagen-based experimental guitarist Henrik Olsson is known from such genre-binding groups as his own Penumbra Ensemble, The Hum and EHM. His new trio – with bass player Jeppe Skovbakke, known from the Mikkel Ploug Group, and drummer Rune Lohse, who plays with Olsson in The Hum, borrows the clinical-medical term of «Hand Of Benediction» (also known as preacher’s hand) that describes the damage of the median nerve that occurs as a result of prolonged compression at the forearm or elbow. The debut album of this trio, augmented by reeds player Julie Kjær and tuba player Kristian Tangvik, is a kind of semi-occult, free-jazz drama that makes full use of the highly personal and often eccentric voices of this trio.

Just like the amusing, somehow mystic postmodern pastiche of artwork, designed by Olsson itself, the music of this trio is a colorful and highly detailed pastiche of different approaches and styles, forms and textures. There is Olsson’s trademark sound, a complex microtonal narrative on the opening «Aventurine» (a form of translucent, green quartz); more straight forward guitar-bass-drums attack on «N.H.F.T.P.H.O.B.» but with a surreal guitar solo; a surprising reference to spirituality and magic of illusionist Harry Houdini on the mini-drama of «Shocking method restores lost hair»; a twisted funky rhythmic pattern on «Collect in a bowl, let the afflicted person drink»; a poetic, cryptic soundscape, with Kjær, on «The Voynich manuscript» (referring to an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system); a loose, free-formed improvisation on microtonal sounds on «Hilarious moments»; the clear, lyrical story of «Black Tourmaline» (supposedly these sparkling crystals would clean your chakras), with Kjær and Tangvik; the cinematic narrative and methodical tension-building of «Harmony»; take a careful sniff the ancient-mysterious «Udug», an ambiguous class of demons from ancient Mesopotamian mythology who were sometimes thought of as good and sometimes as evil; and conclude with enigmatic, microtonal stroll of «Embroider it upon black satin and say: «9s¯!(z>W!*#1&/H»

Get ready to shine and open your chakras with these fascinating sonic spells, courtesy of sonic sorcerer Olsson & Co.

Eyal Hareuveni

Henrik Olsson (el.g), Jeppe Skovbakke (el.b, b), Rune Lohse (dr), Julie Kjær (fl, bcl), Kristian Tangvik (tuba)